Was it only weeks ago that I was standing in the same intersection, trapped in a swirling dustbowl of construction, watching the team of leathery workers drill their way around a sewage pipe?
The sun was beating down with a fury, its rays so piercing that my camera felt like a heat conducting missile. The workers’ dark skin glistened under the sun as I watched (and whimpered) in the shade. The smell of sewage was indescribable, but oh wait, I’ll try anyway. Putrefying.
Fast forward to late September, Shanghai declared a triumphant end to what has been a rather tame (by historical comparison) summer and embraced autumn with open arms.
The city has settled into a comfortably cool sphere of lazy afternoon breezes and occasional evening chills. Yet it was odd to see a contradiction of dressing in the streets made up of mini-skirts with jackets, boots with cotton tops and long-sleeved shirts paired with cut-offs, as if no one has quite made up their mind about the weather.
But for many construction workers, the choice of clothing is less complicated. Autumn meant the same coat but with less layers underneath. Otherwise, it is the same company-issued shirt, the same pair of pants and the same pair of boots.
One worker remarked that the days feel no different and they all meld slowly into months. The slow dip in temperatures meant more languid chats outside dormitary rooms rather than inside. But they remain boxed into the construction zone and were rarely allowed to linger outside for too long.
For some, autumn mattered littled. Rather, the long and cold journey home early next year is already in the back of their minds. Winter is not even upon us. But that’s how fast time flies.